Friday, November 27, 2009

My sister

 Norma Jean and Jan sometime in the 1940s

This is about my sister. Well, one of them, anyway. Norma Jean is closest to me in age, two and a half years younger, so we grew up playing dolls together and being siblings. She just discovered my blog yesterday, and since I've been casting about trying to decide what I want to write about today, it's going to be about her. Actually, about us.

The blog post I've been trying to formulate since I woke up this morning has to do with shame. I feel a fair amount of shame about some aspects of my personality, and I'd really like to let that go, and give myself a break. But when I think of my childhood with Norma Jean, I feel it again. Once I broke a thermometer and knew that Mama would punish me, so I convinced Norma Jean to say she had broken it. I don't remember the outcome of that experience, but I know I still feel shame about having done that.

When we grew up, moving all around the country and to Puerto Rico (our Air Force dad was stationed at the air base there, twice), I reveled in making new friends and being the "new girl." Norma Jean hated it; she made one friend and agonized when she left one behind and had to make another. I didn't even notice, since I had developed a persona that allowed me to hide behind. I never made just one friend but several, and I would sometimes play one against another. This of course backfired when I grew up because I never learned how to let that persona go and form close relationships.

Once I became a teenager and began to care mightily about how and where I fit into the local scene, Norma Jean figured out ways to make me suffer. She would threaten to tell some boy I was interested in at the time about some of my worst habits and I would buckle under and plead for mercy. We were best friends and best enemies at the same time. I have a vague memory of looking into a baby crib when she was a few months old and hating her. Probably because she was now the favorite, and I was really used to that position myself.

But all that is in the past. Now I am looking at a birthday next week, and I'll be 67. I remember when I turned 60 and was unwilling to have a birthday party because I was, well, old and didn't want to be reminded about it. And that was seven long years ago. Now my birthdays have become precious and sought after. Once I let go of thinking I'd live forever, I began to cherish the years, the seasons, and the days, that I have left to me.

And another thing I cherish so much that it brings tears to my eyes is my relationship with Norma Jean, my sister. I have other sisters, three others to be exact, but they never were close enough to my age to form such a strong attachment. Norma Jean, I love you, and I am still working on growing out of my old habit of being such a brat.


  1. Hi Djan,
    I know EXACTLY how you feel.
    Forgive the child, and embrace the adult.
    Kathryn : )

  2. I only have the one and in our old age, we are loving each other more days than we hate each other. Sisters are something, aren't they? They just always have to be there.

  3. I think most of what you describe is normal for sisters, it was much the same in our house. But I was an only child for nine years before my first sister came along.

  4. As much as I love reading about loving sisters, it does give me a twinge of envy... I had only brothers. You are very blessed to have such a bond.

  5. What a sweet, honest post. Let the past go! (I know, you were simply waiting for me to say that all this time, right? Now it'll be easy! LOL!)

  6. You will make it no doubt. It might take forever and a day past your 90th birthday but who cares? Happy Days are hear again.

    I have a sister named, "Norma."

  7. I'm so glad your sister finally discovered your blog. Your blog is one of my favorites. And I was just joking in my last post!

  8. It doesn't sound like you have too much to be ashamed of D-Jan. I think she will forgive you the thermometer incident now (wink). So lovely to have so many sisters (speaking of someone who has none). Enjoy them all as much as you can and look forward to your birthday next week. Which day is it?
    Blessings, Star

  9. I love you, Jan. Be assured I forgave you a long time ago. It is so special to have a person that can practically read my mind. And also someone that knows I am thinking of you whether I contact you or not.

  10. Awww I just ready Norma Jean's reply and it was so nice of her to forgive you and loved you all her life! Sisters I think are like that, sometimes friend and sometimes enemies. You are lucky to have sisters DJ, I don't even have one. I am the only girl which means my rivals are tougher than me, but have to be tougher than them or they'll beat me! I am a brat! LOL. But I am nice.


  11. Jan,
    This is simply beautiful...I never had a sister...just a brother...but you have captured my feelings so perfectly...sibling relationships are both complicated and precious! This warmed my heart!! You express your thoughts and feelings so superbly!! And I find myself reading and nodding!!! Love you! Janine XO

  12. Aw,,your sister forgives just have to forgive yourself! Wonderful photo..I love the dresses and the anklets..were the dresses pink..that is how I imagine them! I am 16 years older than my sister..we have nothing in common..except you are very lucky DJan:)

  13. I do not have a sister but I saw my cousin quite often when I was very young. She married early at 18 and I did not see her much after that and almost lost contact with her. Then my mother went to a retirement home near my cousin’s town about 8 years ago and she found out about it. She and her husband were retired and when we reunited it was as we had never been apart. She was the one who called me to tell me if I wanted to see my mother alive I should take the next plane to France back in 2002, and she was right – she helped me with the funeral and everything. Now when we went to France last month she cooked gourmet meals for us every day. Yesterday was her 50th wedding anniversary and I had pre-ordered a large plant for them and she just sent me a picture of her and her husband in front of the plant. She is like a sister to me it is so good to have someone like that. I know what you mean in your post and it brings tears to my eyes.


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